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Should Streaming Sites Be Forced To Buy Aussie Content?

Aussie creatives are calling for local content requirements on streaming services, with the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance union slamming the government for failing to implement them.

The Morrison government is examining whether to implement a minimum Australian content spend requirement on streaming services above a minimum size threshold in the local market; these services will be asked next year to begin reporting to the Australian Communications and Media Authority on local content acquisition.

However, according to MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy, this does not go far enough on streaming services, with global companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime so far avoiding requirements to produce Australian content.

“How the Government has missed the boat on regulating streaming services and requiring set levels of Australian content each year defies belief.

“Streaming services – yielding billions in income each year – will be celebrating that they have again avoided any content rules,” he said.

The government also announced today that it is injecting $53 million into local film and TV production, and maintaining the 55 per cent Australian content requirement for commercial broadcasters.

“Sub-quotas” for Australian content will be loosened, with programming now counting towards content requirements if it is drama, documentary, or children’s content; the government will also halve spend requirements for Australian content on selected pay TV channels, from 10 to five per cent.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, announcing the changes, said they balanced the need to support Australian content with a need to remove “unsustainable” obligations on industry.

“They begin to rebalance our regulatory framework and provide Australians with the opportunity to access Australian content across a range of media, regardless of whether they want to watch free-to-air television, subscription television or streaming services,” he said.

According to Murphy, however, the flexibility offered to commercial networks will also lead to fewer Australian productions across the board.

“The maintenance of the 55 per cent Australian content rule is a statement of business as usual, as it already allows television broadcasters to count reality, sports, news and current affairs towards quota achievement, but is accompanied by weakened sub-quotas.

“It is likely to mean the demise of children’s content on commercial TV, leaving a cash-strapped ABC to pick up the slack,” he said.

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